Suspicious Package Shuts Down Part of Concord

  • As a woman watches through a nearby window, Sgt. Jeff Dade, bomb squad commander with the New Hampshire State Police, responds to a suspicious package outside the Merrimack County Savings Bank on N. Main Street in downtown Concord on Friday, Mar. 23, 2018. The package was determined to be a common electrical ballast inside of small brown box. (ELIZABETH FRANTZ / Monitor staff) Concord Monitor — Elizabeth Frantz

Concord Monitor
Published: 3/23/2018 11:53:40 PM
Modified: 3/23/2018 11:53:42 PM

Concord — A suspicious package left on a bank window sill shut down downtown Concord for around three hours on Friday afternoon while the state police’s bomb squad investigated. It was ultimately determined to be harmless and is not believed to be connected to a demonstration set for Saturday.

Concord police responded to reports of a package sitting on a Merrimack County Savings Bank windowsill facing Main Street shortly after 1 p.m. Police set up a perimeter and called on the New Hampshire State Police bomb squad, who was able to determine the package was not a threat after X-raying and then opening the package, said Sgt. Jeff Dade, bomb squad commander.

Dade said police were unable to determine the package, which had “courthouse” written on its side and ultimately contained a universal ballast (used to regulate electrical flow), was not a threat by X-raying it alone. Police then used a “disruptor” to open the package using water. The package was then deemed “clearly not a threat,” Dade said.

Dade declined to say how exactly the package was opened, saying he didn’t want to describe the methods state police use when responding to incidents. Dade was seen working near the package in a heavily padded suit and a helmet, along with a robot. The disruptor was used after the robot knocked the package off the windowsill. Concord police Lt. Cori Casey said police are often able to determine whether “suspicious packages” are threats on their own; however, in many cases they will work with the state’s bomb squad to assist.

“They use their expertise and training in providing us guidance with the initial response and in bringing the situation to a safe resolution,” Casey said.

Casey said police “do not believe” the package is related to the Concord March For Our Lives demonstration set to take place at 10 a.m today. that will include a march past the bank, but declined to explain how.

A student involved in the Concord march said students were not intimidated.

“Myself, and many other students do not stand for fear mongering,” Concord High school Senior Jonathan Weinberg said. “We will advocate for what we believe in and will not be silenced.”

Traffic was detoured around the area close to the State House for approximately two hours, but the capitol was not shut down.

A five-block stretch of North Main Street was closed as police investigated. Concord City Manager Tom Aspell walked downtown to see what impact the situation was having on area businesses, but referred comment to police.

Some bank employees who were evacuated as a precaution went across the street to the Barley House, which remained open. Construction on the nearby School Street city garage continued without interruption.

Casey said police work with nearby businesses when incidents occur to keep their employees safe, but did not know if businesses other than Merrimack County Savings Bank were asked to evacuate or shelter in place.

Casey said the matter is still under investigation and anyone with relevant information should call the Concord Regional Crimeline at 226-3100.

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